By Susan Hoffman
Contributor, Online Learning Tips
Going back to school is particularly challenging for adult learners. Many students have part- or full-time jobs, family responsibilities, and social activities. When you add reading assignments, watching videos, writing forum posts, creating papers or presentations, and taking tests for your classes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
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But taking the online classes you need for a certificate or a diploma doesn’t have to make you feel like you’ve taken on too much. With some advance planning and time management, your schooling will become more manageable and you’ll regain the proper balance among work, life and school.
Six Tips for Maintaining Proper Work, Life and School Balance
1) Manage your time well. Develop a schedule to follow, and set aside specific times to do your classwork. Time management and study apps are also available to help you use your time wisely.
2) Don’t procrastinate on assignments. When you’re tired from a long workday, for example, it’s easy to put off writing a long academic paper. But you may then find yourself scrambling at the last minute to turn in your paper on time.
Instead, consider breaking up your assignment into more manageable chunks. Do the research one day, write an outline for your paper the next day, and start creating your paper on the third day. After that, all you’ll have to do is polish your final version and turn it in.
3) Build a support system. See if other people in your life, such as your spouse, parents or older children, can take over some of your family responsibilities for a while. That will free up more time in your schedule.
4) Identify your priorities. It isn’t always easy to say “no” when you’re invited out for the evening or you want to spend time on social media. But those activities should take second place to your studies for a while.
5) Take a break from studying at times. If you’re working, taking classes and caring for your family, burnout can flare up all too quickly. Take occasional breaks, and be sure to get sufficient sleep and exercise.
6) Vary your study areas. Sometimes, going to a coffee shop or a library is a nice break from working at home. If your home is noisy, for instance, it’s helpful to go to a quieter place that allows you to concentrate.
Contact Your Instructor or Academic Advisor if You Need Help
If you find yourself struggling to maintain a balance among work, home and school, there are various options. For example, if you become ill or are deployed as you’re taking a class, contact your instructor to explain the problem. He or she may be able to suggest alternatives such as extending an assignment deadline or putting your academic program on a temporary hold.
Also, get in touch with an academic advisor, who can offer useful advice. Academic advisors for each school are available seven days a week; you can also chat with them online or set up an appointment for an advising session.